How Bench Procedures and Time Out Management Impact the Game.

8 Oct

Written by Kevin Sutton

Assistant Coach at Georgetown University

I. Bench procedures:

– The bench must be totally engaged into the game (mentally and physically). Lack of engagement is a clear indicator to the coach that the player is more concerned with themselves than the team. Being engaged is sending a message to the coaches and the teammates that the player is ready to play and is invested in the game.

– The bench must cheer for their teammates and not sit as a spectator. The cheering must be positive and empowering. It must be the type of cheering that you would want to hear when you are on the floor.

– The players on the bench stand and extent their hand to the teammate that is coming out the game. This is a form of solidarity and a demonstration of TEAMWORK!

– The player exiting the game must “high five” with each member on the bench and pick up their water at the end of the bench from the manager and return to the available seat next to an assistant coach so that they can receive feedback on their performance. The touch and agreeing is acknowledging of their teammates.

– Never go to the end of then bench to sit after coming out of the game. This will only allow the player to disengage with the team and think of themselves. The player will invariably start to ask questions of themselves and others as to why he got taken out the game. Also by going to the end of the bench the assistant coaches can not give them the proper feedback that can be helpful to the player and, more importantly, the team.

– Be vocal, especially when the team’s defense is in front of the bench. This is a great way to start the game engaged. Communicating with your teams while you are on the bench is equally as valuable as the communication that is taking place on the court. Provided that the communication is the same and it benefits the team.

– When a time out is called, sprint out to meet your teammates who are in the game but do not cross half court (rule violation). Whether the situation is good or bad, the team must remain a team (a unit). Furthermore, it sends a message to your opponents that they are playing a TEAM and not a collection of individuals.

II.  Time outs:

Another aspect of the game of basketball that often gets over looked and is often mismanaged are Timeouts.  You can easily identify the most successful teams from the teams that do not win by their time outs. It is their structure and organization that allows for the maximum amount of necessary information to be disseminated during the timeout.  As soon as the ball is put into play you will know right away how much of the information was retained. Winning teams execute after timeouts (ATO).

Each team is given the same number of timeouts per game. How they are used and when they are used often have an impact on the outcome of the games.  I love the rules that the NBA and FIBA use regarding time outs in their games. Both the NBA and FIBA place a high value on timeouts which makes their respective games more interesting from a tactical standpoint.

There are two types of timeouts in the College and High School game; the 30 second time out and the Full time out.  Each must be handled differently by the coach so that the timeout is maximized positively and not wasted negatively.

A. 30 second timeout:

The players in the game must remain standing up and on the court. The players not in the game must remain off the court. So, it is imperative that the players in the game SPRINT off the court to the bench area.  The players in the game should remain in front of the coach standing from the coaches left to right (players right to left) 1-5 (pt.g, g, sf, pf & c). By lining up this way, the coach does not have to look around for each player, he can talk freely because he knows exactly where each position/player is in the huddle.

B. Full Time out/TV time outs:

These timeouts are longer. The managers will hand out the towels and water bottles while the coaches meet away from the team. When the head coach is ready to address the team all water and towels are taken away by the managers so that the players an give the coach their full attention. The players will sit from the coaches left to right 1-5.  Every coach should have a role during full/tv time outs: one coach should know the foul and timeout situation. Another coach should watch for changes in the opponents line ups and potential match ups. The coach responsible for the scout should assist the head coach the most during timeouts. The head manager must help to get the team out of the huddle after the first horn sounds.

III. Conclusion:

Winning is hard!  Consistently winning is even harder. The teams that consistently win have a bench procedure and effectively manage time outs with their organization. They win more games than they lose. They understand the impact that both aspects have on the game. Just watch how engaged their bench is during the game, look how the players coming off the bench perform,and finally, look how well they execute after time out (either offensively or defensively).

Rule of the 1/3

30 Sep

Written by Kevin Sutton

Assistant Coach Georgetown

One of today’s buzz words when trying to build a team/culture is “buy in”.  Every coach is trying to get their players to “buy in”. Early in my coaching career I had the unbelievable opportunity to attend a Temple University practice conducted by Hall of Fame Coach John Chaney.

The topic of the day for Coach Chaney was ” are you buying what I am selling?”. Coach Chaney said, ” if you trust me, if you believe in me and if you listen to me, then you will buy what I am selling you. If you don’t, then you won’t”.  He finished by saying, this is a fact of life. “Buy in” begins and ends with trust! “Buy in” is an indication of a person’s commitment level.

As coaches trying to get your players to “buy in” to you, your program, your style of play, your culture.  Remember the rule of the 1/3.

The rule of the 1/3 says that 1/3 of the group will “buy in” into the coaching staff right away. They trust you, they believe in you, they know that you want them to be successful. We will call this group 1.  Group 2 is the 1/3 of the team that wants to “buy in”. They do things the coach wants them to do, but they need to be convinced more, motivated more, taught more why “buy in” will not only help the team, but each individual as well.  We will call them Group 2.  The last 1/3 of the team is the group that does not want to “buy in”. They have trust issues, they question everything. They don’t believe in the coach, the process or anything about the program.  This is group 3.

Through my experiences as a coach I have learned that too many coaches focus on Group 3 trying to get them to “buy in”.  In actuality the group that the coach needs to focus their attention on is Group 2. The coach just needs to “sell” them more persuasively, or motivate them more creatively.  When the coach gets group 2 to “buy in” they now have 2/3’s of the team “bought in” to the staff, to the program, to the culture.

Now that 2/3’s of the team has “bought in” the coaching staff can focus their attention on getting 1/2 of group 3 to “buy in”. The coaching staff and 2/3’s of the team will see certain members of group 3 starting to believe in, starting to move in the direction that is more in line with majority of the team.

At this point it should clear to the coaching staff that those last members of group 3 are not going to “buy in” so they need to be “BOUGHT OUT”!  

The rule of 1/3 can be a helpful tool when you are trying to get “buy in”.

Communication for Better Coach/Player relationships

18 Aug

Written by Kevin Sutton – Assistant Coach at Georgetown University

“Genuine relationship” building takes time. More than ever before, coaches have to really make a conscience decision to develop genuine relationship with their players. The ability to communicate with your players is an invaluable skill. These relationships allow coaches to earn the respect and trust of their players. Once these “genuine relationships” have been built teaching can take place. After proper teaching takes place, then improvement will shortly follow.

Today’s student/athletes use a variety of methods to communicate. Unfortunately, however, variety does not necessarily make an individual a great communicator. I am a firm believer that coaches must reach their players where they are most comfortable to truly develop a “genuine relationship”. These places can be emotionally, spiritually, academically, or socially. These places can be physical locations (such as their dorms, coach’s homes, training tables and team meals, etc.)

In high school, I struggled learning geometry. Unexpectedly, she changed my life when she came to one of basketball games and saw how much basketball meant to me. The next day in class, she told me that I knew more about geometry than most of the students in my class. I was sure she had lost her mind. She then gave me a piece of paper with the dimensions of the basketball court on it. She started to ask me geometry questions using lines, angles of the basketball court and I answered all the questions correctly! She met me where I was and created a teachable moment that I will never forget.

Here are some ideas that I have discussed with other coaches and have used during my coaching career to develop “genuine relationships” with my players. I am confident that if you try to implement some of these ideas then you will be moving in the right direction to developing “genuine relationship” with your players.

  • Get to know their 5 H’s (History, Hopes, Heartaches, Hero and Honey).
  • Work them out and help them to improve their skills.
  • Invite them into your home for a meal.
  • One-on-one film sessions
  • Go their homes
  • Leverage current events in the world to capture their attention, especially if the event touches them personally.
  • Choose books that you can share with them to read and discuss with themwhen they finish reading the book.
  • Create a group chat via social media. Throw out a topic and encourage theplayers to speak on the topic freely and openly.
  • Be observant of what your players do, what they say, what wear & try toconnect.
  • Be a great listener. And allow your players the opportunity to express themselves.

Becoming a better communicator and taking the time to INVEST in developing a “genuine relationships” with your players will help lead your team to incredible success. We all want our players to “buy in”, however to obtain “buy in” you must get them to “believe in”. Believe in you, your genuine interest in them, and what is important to them. “Believe in” is earned through trust, and trust takes time and effort.

Director of Basketball Operations

27 Oct

Written by Kevin Sutton Assistant Coach at Georgetown University

A bad Director of Basketball Oprations can hurt a program faster and longer than a bad assistant coach can. Former head coach at a High Major basketball program told that statement to me. The more I thought about it the more I began to agree with him. So the statement really got me to thinking, the converse must be also being true. A good Director of Basketball Operations can help a program quicker and longer than a good assistant.

In this blog I want to touch on what I feel are the major characteristics that make up a really good Director of Basketball Operations. The DOBO has to:
1. Have thick skin and ability to handle prickly situation with aplomb.
2. Be a self motivated and self directed learner
3. Be able to manage a lot of things at one time (Juggle a lot of balls)
4. Be able to anticipate the needs of the head coach while managing the head coaches schedule
5. Be a great communicator
6. Be very well organized
7. Be able to put out fires
8. Be extremely loyal
9. Be detail oriented and task completed driven
10. Be skilled in budget management, technologically savvy & a people person
11. Be a liaison between the coaching staff, the athletic administration, admissions, compliance, academic support, dining services, sports information, ticket office etc.
12. Be able to oversee and manage the support staff (Video Coordinator, Graduate Assistants and managers).
13. Have a good relationship with the players as well.

The Director of Basketball Operation position is such a broad scoping position that head coaches are starting to view and use the position differently. Some coaches chose to hire more of a basketball minded person in the position so that the head coach can lean on their coaching experience. While other coaches are hiring DOBO’s with no basketball experience because they bring the all-important administrative and technological skills to the position. Either way the Head Coach is selecting the DOBO because they fit their needs for their program.

In conclusion, the DOBO is a “glue guy” He really holds the staff together. A good DOBO allows the staff to be free to “Coach” every aspect of the program. If he has the urgency and drive needed in the profession, he can really help with all matters related to the program. Having the mentality of “no job is too big or too small” has to be the mindset at all times. When you look at successful programs you know they have a quality Director of Basketball Operations (DOBO).

Speech for Point Guard College

27 Aug

Topic: Skill Development – Multiple Effort Offensive and Defensive Drills

I. intro:
Thank you Sam Allen, and rest of the people at Point Guard College for asking me to speak. It is truly an honor. I would also like to thank you for attending the clinic and choosing to listen to me.

My topic today is Skill Development -Using Multiple Effort Offensive And Defensive Drills. I want to give the disclaimer by saying that what I am going to share with you are my thoughts, beliefs and concepts that I have used to develop players throughout my 27 year coaching career. If you don’t agree or don’t like what I am showing it is ok.

II. Skill development:

A. Skill development has always been my passion.
B. It is the most enjoyable part of the game for me.
C. It gives you the opportunity to build a trusting relationship with your players/team through shared sweat equity.

III. What makes a good skill session:

A. workouts should be parts of the whole geared toward improvement.
B. Players must be taken out of their comfort zone.
C. all the players should do all the drills. Regardless of their position.
D. Weak hand development is a must and should be a part of every workout.
E. When teaching…using sound bites.
F. Each drill should not be more than 12 mins(2 mins of explanation & 10 mins of activity)
G. should have fluidity btw drill to drill
H. Name you drills after pro(players will connect w/the drill better).
I. Make the skill sessions about improvement and not punishment.
J. Come to the skills session with plan/schedule in hand.
K. Design your skill sessions to compete vs the participants. For the player the competition is:
them vs. coach
Them vs.the other ppl in the workout
Them vs themselves
L. Whenever possible chart shots.
M. Whenever possible use the clock.
N. Should teach secure players vs insecure player(being a great teammate).
O. Should teach leadership/Followship (by rotating your leaders throughout the workout).
P. Should develop/raise the participants Bball iq by teaching the y and just the how. By using imagination/creativity.
R. Teaches how to improve instincts through repetition.
S. Building of good habits
T. Build Up/never tare down

IV. Conclusion:
In all that you do as a coach/educator: pouring into your players, and investing in them as people is the most important. I challenge you to impact as many lives as you through the game of basketball. Create “LIVING TROPHIES!

Speech at Camp Pocono Trails

18 Aug

I have been honored to ask to speak at Pocono Trails in Pa. This camp is an outstanding camp that helps so many kids find their way in life. My daughter Kayleigh is a counselor there and was instrumental in getting me invited to speak. Here is my speech:

I. Introduction:
Let me begin my speech by saying that I am honored and humbled to be asked to speak to you today.

Secondly, I want you to know that I am not here to lecture to you. I am here today with a very simple message: You are Valuable!

It is my hope and desire that what I have to say will be heard with your ears, processed in your brain, felt in your heart, but most importantly lived out in your life.

II. Background:
A. Basketball coach at Gtown
B. travelled the world with game
C. Have spoken in 15 different countries

Today is not about me! Today is about you! Everyone of you are Valuable. For whatever reason that you are here it is b/c someone saw the value in you and loved you enough to send you to an incredible camp like this. To find what you need , to SEE the value in YOURSELF!

You see I speak from a unique perspective: My daughter(Kayleigh) was a camper and is now has returned as a counselor. So when I say to you that you are Valued it is b/c my wife just like your parents or your support system made that very hard, tough decision to send her to THIS camp so that we could help her see her VALUE and strive to reach her potential.

Everyone of us has potential for greatness, it is our gift from God. You know what those gifts are. But with potential comes responsibility.
YOU have to try to live up to that responsibility of reaching you full potential.

Another idea that I want to share with you is “INSIDE VOICES vs outside voices. We make the choice everyday of which voices we choose to listen to. You see the “inside voices” are the voices that believes in you, love you, support you, tells you you can do and you will do it! And the OUTSIDE voice is filled with telling you can’t, give up, it is too hard and don’t even try.

In conclusion, I just want to say to you these five things:
1. You are valuable
2. You have potential for greatness
3. Listen to your inside voice.
4. Run your own race at your own pace
5. Be a blessing to someone else daily.

Thank you !

How to Successfully Navigate Your Career

3 Jul

Written by
Kevin Sutton
Georgetown University

Every one has their own story to tell and no one can tell that story better than the individual.

In the profession of Coaching there is truly no one way to reaching your ultimate goal(becoming a head coach).

As you chart your path through the coaching profession I really believe there are a few questions that the individual should ask themselves:

1. What is the “end game” my ultimate goal?

2. What is my definition of Success?

3. How important is Longevity?

4. What sacrifices am I willing to make?

5. Am I prepared to make those sacrifices?

Throughout my 27 year coaching career I have always referred back to those questions when making my decision. My career has been a myriad of thoughtful, logical and progressional steps. I have always tried to remain “true” to who I was at my core principals and values. Through introspection you come to know and define who you are as a person and as a coach.

The coaching profession like all professions has evolved a lot in a number of different ways. So to successful advance in your career you must have a understanding and working knowledge of the influences that are changing the game as it pertains to advancement in coaching


Social media:

Search firms


Attending professional development
Coaching U
Villa 7
A Step Up

Writing Blogs:
Own website
Chalk talk
Basketball HQ
George Raveling

Getting published:
Winning Hoops
Ebooks online
Basketball Magazines
Fiba Assist Magazine

I really feel that the number one thing that you can do is to do a great job right where you are. “Bloom where you are planted” -Pastor Joel Osteen. That is the most important job you have.

Another very important part to successfully advancing in your career is the ability to connect/network. You must make an effort to build your network. You must connect with people and build a relationship with them before you can ask them to go to bat for you. The old adage is: connect with people before you need them to do something for you.

Build your brand/reputation on an aspect of the game,(skill developer, recruiter, scout, x &o guy etc). Don’t allow yourself to be pigeoned hole to that one aspect. Involve yourself in learning about the other aspect of the game. When you involve yourself then you can add those new skills to your already existing skill set.

I truly believe that the more versatile you are, the more valuable you are. This is something that we say to our players all the time. It should apply to advancing in your career too!

To successfully advance in your career means that you must invest in yourself. Grow as the profession grows, connect to establish, maintain and grow your network. Make your work ethic be your number One skill.